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Is Teryl Austin the right choice for the Bengals?

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Austin replaces Guenther as defensive coordinator in Cincinnati.

NFL: OCT 16 Rams at Lions
Bengals’ new defensive coordinator
Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

On Monday, the Cincinnati Bengals hired former Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin to fill the vacancy created when Paul Guenther took the same position with Oakland.

Marvin Lewis’ good friend Jack Del Rio, the former head coach of the Raiders and an experienced defensive coordinator, apparently was never even considered for the position, perhaps because he is holding out for another head-coaching opportunity.

Whatever the reason, Austin is on his way to Cincinnati after the Bengals won a battle for his services with Jon Gruden and the Oakland Raiders, who were trying to hire Austin to coach their secondary.

Austin, at 52, is six years older than Guenther, and has three more years of coaching experience. Unlike Guenther, Austin was also a player, having started for the University of Pittsburgh for three years in the mid-80s. Austin played one season with the Montreal Machine of the World League of American Football in 1991 before turning to coaching with Penn State University.

He made stops at Wake Forest, Syracuse and Michigan before joining Mike Holmgren as the defensive backs coach for the Seattle Seahawks in 2003. He held the same position with Arizona from 2007 to 2009 before finally getting his first opportunity as a defensive coordinator under Urban Meyer at Florida in 2010.

Austin served as secondary coach with Baltimore from 2011 to 2013 before hooking on as the defensive coordinator under Jim Caldwell for the past four seasons.

In 2014, Austin’s first season with the Lions, his defense finished ranked No 2 in the NFL overall and was No. 3 in points allowed. But things went downhill from there. Detroit was the No. 18 overall defense in 2015, and ranked No. 23 in scoring. The Lions were again No. 18 overall in 2016, but were up to No. 13 in scoring.

This year, Detroit was plagued by numerous injuries and plummeted to No. 27 overall and No. 21 in scoring.

By comparison, Guenther’s defenses during that same period of time ranked 21st, 12th, 15th and 30th overall, respectively. Guenther’s primary emphasis during his time with the Bengals was in keeping the opposition off of the scoreboard, and he was relatively successful at that. During his time as coordinator, his defenses were ranked 12th, 2nd, 8th and 16th, respectively, in points allowed.

So the big question now is whether Austin represents an upgrade over Guenther. Based on statistics alone, it would appear that Guenther has a slight edge. Both men have seen their units ranked among the best in the league, and both have seen plenty of struggles.

While there were other candidates out there who might have been an even better fit for the Bengals, such as Del Rio and former Chicago Bears/Denver Broncos/Carolina Panthers head coach John Fox, both of whom are good friends of Lewis, time was not on Cincinnati’s side.

Preparations are already beginning for 2018, and the Bengals needed to get the position filled as quickly as possible. Did they make the right choice?

Poll

Is Teryl Austin the right choice as defensive coordinator for the Bengals?

This poll is closed

  • 40%
    Yes
    (533 votes)
  • 16%
    No
    (219 votes)
  • 42%
    Undecided
    (558 votes)
1310 votes total Vote Now